Outdoors

It’s a jubilee! Water’s edge teeming with crabs, shrimp and fish

Crab fill an ice chest on the beach in Gulfport on Wednesday, when crab and fish began swimming close to the shoreline on the beach south of Courthouse Road. Crab and fish increased over an extended area near the water’s edge Thursday, along with shrimp, making the event a jubilee.
Crab fill an ice chest on the beach in Gulfport on Wednesday, when crab and fish began swimming close to the shoreline on the beach south of Courthouse Road. Crab and fish increased over an extended area near the water’s edge Thursday, along with shrimp, making the event a jubilee. rfitgerald@sunherald.com

It’s time for seafood lovers to grab nets, buckets and ice chests and head to the shoreline.

And don’t forget the appropriate fishing licenses.

The Mississippi Department of Marine Resources has declared a jubilee in the Mississippi Sound over a more than 15-mile area of shoreline from the Old Broadwater Marina in Biloxi to the Pass Christian Harbor.

A sudden influx of crab, shrimp and fish at the water’s edge south of Courthouse Road in Gulfport on Wednesday raised the possibility of good news or bad: A jubilee or a red tide, the latter which makes seafood toxic.

“What we were seeing Wednesday was a small amount of fish, shrimp and crab in a very localized area,” Scallan said.

“Sometime after midnight, it extended over a large area, so it’s officially a jubilee.”

If wind, weather and water temperatures continue, the jubilee could last several days, said MDMR spokeswoman Melissa Scallan.

MDMR began taking samples Wednesday to make sure there was no algae problems that could cause a red tide, which can be toxic to fish and those who consume them, Scallan said. Tests will continue to make sure there are no problems.

A low oxygen level brings seafood close to shore. Before dawn, crab, fish and seafood move closer to the water’s edge, distressed from oxygen deprivation. As long as the seafood is alive when caught, and kept on ice until you get it home, it’s safe to eat.

Crab and fish were more prevalent in Gulfport on Wednesday. By Thursday morning, shrimp were washing ashore, Scallan said.

“If the weather remains pretty much the same — warm, calm seas and not much wind — this could last several days,” Scallan said.

“If rain comes in on Saturday, the rain water could mix with the salt water and change the conditions.”

For those who miss the jubilee, it can easily happen again, Scallan said.

But fishing licenses are required for those who take seafood from the water.

There’s no license required to catch shrimp for recreational purposes with a net. There’s a $5 fee for a crab license if you want to set traps. The fee is $12.99 for a recreational saltwater fishing license for fin fish. The fee is $15 for a recreational shrimp license.

Scallan said fishing licenses are available at stores that sell sporting goods and fishing supplies and at the DMR, 1141 Bayview Avenue in Biloxi. The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks sells licenses online on its website, www.mdwfp.com.

There’s limits on some catches in recreational fishing. For instance, there’s no limit on hard-shell crabs as long as they are a minimum of five inches. The limit on flounder is 15 that measure at least 12 inches from snout to tail. MDMR has a chart on catch limits on its website.

Robin Fitzgerald: 228-896-2307, @robincrimenews

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